Simon Royce last played a competitive match back in February 2011 for Brentford during a 4-1 defeat in League One to Dagenham & Redbridge.
Yet, the 48-year-old goalkeeper found himself unexpectedly named on the bench for Gillingham in their League One clash with in-form Oxford United. The reason for the surprise inclusion was a late injury to reserve goalkeeper Joe Walsh.
With few options available to the visiting side, Gillingham turned to their veteran goalkeeping coach Royce and soon enough the elder statesman was taking his place on the side’s bench.
Royce was likely thankful he didn’t have to come on during the match, however, as Oxford United – who have enjoyed a remarkable surge in form over the past seven days (having scored 13 goals with none conceded in reply) – ran out assured 3-0 winners at the Kassam Stadium.
Having humiliated Premier League side West Ham 4-0 in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Oxford picked up exactly where they had left off against Gillingham, with James Henry opening the scoring after just 10 minutes.
Matty Taylor fired in a low shot on the half-hour mark before Henry added a quick third, with Oxford securing the win before the break.